Cat owners are being urged to protect their pets from sun exposure during the current heatwave as they may be at risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer.
Cat charity, Cats Protection, says cats with white or pale ears or noses are particularly susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays – with some needing drastic surgery to repair sun damaged skin.
The charity warns that white cats don’t have a pigment called melanin in their skin, which is what protects humans from sunlight. This can leave them vulnerable to sun damage – usually around the ears. One such cat is 13-year-old Tiara who had her ears removed.
“Not everyone realises that cats can develop skin cancer from too much sun exposure and certain pale cats, like Tiara, are more at risk,” said Cats Protection spokesperson Louise Waters. “Over time, the damage caused can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a skin cancer that occurs when the skin becomes damaged from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.”
Louise adds: “The best way to protect your cat is by keeping him or her indoors during the hottest part of the day, particularly during the summer months. We understand that’s not always easy so it’s also a good idea for cat owners to ask their vet to recommend a suitable sunscreen.”
Top Tips for Cat Owners
While most cats will be perfectly safe in summer, there are other potential hazards to be aware of, so the charity has compiled some tips to help cat owners:
- Encourage your cat to drink more by placing water bowls away from food bowls, using glass, ceramic or metal bowls instead of plastic and making sure they are large with a big surface area. Keep the water topped up so your cat doesn’t have to put their head into the bowls and never leave your cat without any water at all. Some cats prefer running water so try offering them a water fountain. Place water bowls in different places around the house so they will always find somewhere to drink.
- Read the label on pest control products – slug pellets which contain metaldehyde can prove fatal to cats, so make sure any pest control products are safe for felines.
- Take care with barbecues – ensure barbecue coals are properly cooled with water as your cat can suffer nasty burns if they jump onto them once you are finished.
- Check your plants and flowers are feline friendly – certain ones can be toxic to cats, particularly lilies. Avoid buying lilies, both for outdoor and indoor arrangements and, if you think your cat has eaten or come into contact with any part of a lily, then get him to a vet as soon as possible.
- Keep the doors of sheds and greenhouses shut – be careful not to accidentally trap cats inside outbuildings during hot weather.
- Ensure your cat has appropriate flea treatment – fleas thrive in hot weather, so make sure your cat is protected against them. Your vet will be able to advise on what treatment is most suitable for your pet.